Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Stephen writes:

I stumbled upon your site while I was searching around the internet looking for some municipal bi-law information (which my idiotic neighbor is surely breaking)! I am glad you finally managed to shake your neighbor!

I also live in Southern Ontario and have a neighbor that is a complete idiot!!! We haven't been in our house that long (just over a year), and I am already battling with him. First off, his house is a total eye sore! When we bought our house, it was during the winter and his whole property has covered in snow, so we couldn't tell how bad it was. Big Mistake. Moral of the story? Never buy a home during the Winter time!

I couldn't agree more here. Best time to buy a house is spring. The ground is clear and you will get a good idea as to the state of repair of lawns and gardens. Pride of ownership matters, especially when it comes to resale value.

We live in a very nice neighbourhood in Burlington that is about 20 years old. It is very mature, with big homes and lots of nice trees. All the properties are very well cared for.... except for our neighbors place! He is the original owner (a single male in his 50's maybe? Never married, no kids etc...), and he hasn't done a thing to it since he moved in. He hasn't even paved his driveway yet, so it is gravel and full of weeds that get up to 3-4 feet tall during the summer! He only cuts his grass about once every 4-6 weeks [Sacrilege!!!].

His garage doors are completely rotten with holes big enough for a raccoon to climb through (I know this because I have seen raccoons climbing through them). And he has over-grown ivy completely covering his house with some windows completely covered, and you can't even see his street address sign anymore. Every light on the house is rusted and broken, and the windows and doors don't have any paint left on them! The worst part is that he NEVER takes his garbage out. Not a single bag since we have lived there! So we are afraid that he is some sort of hoarder or something.

Scary stuff. I've posted about hoarders before.

This summer I finally had enough of looking at his horrid property and planted a 7 foot cedar hedge down the side of my front lawn so I don't have to look at his house anymore. I planted it on my side of the property line just in case he complained, which he did.

Natural fences are a great way to either reduce conflict, or take it to the next level. I wrote about how great the Leyland Cypress is on this post from 2008.

He told me it was an eye sore and demanded that I take it down. I just laughed at him and told him I would gladly take it down as soon as he paved his driveway, fixed his garage doors etc. He then proceeded to insult my property, and said my children and wife were eye sores! That was the last time I spoke with him.

Now he spies on me! Last week I caught him hiding on the side of his garage and staring at me while I cut my lawn. I just waved and said hello, and he retreated out of sight. Then he came back later and continued watching me. I suspect he was trying to catch me stepping on his property or something while I was cutting my lawn, so he could come yell at me? He is weird!

We were shocked to come home last week and find he had replaced his garage doors! His property actually looks a lot better now... except of course for the gravel & weed driveway, the rotting doors and windows, 3 foot high grass etc. I guess if he fixes his driveway, I will have to take the hedge down!!!

I wouldn't retreat on that one, especially if you built it on your side of the properly line.

Anyway, I guess in the end there are plenty of weirdo's out there. I am kind of happy that I don't have to speak to my neighbor anymore. I know he doesn't like me, and I don't like him so the relationship works. Now I am just trying to figure out what I can do about the fact that he never takes garbage out. I am afraid of what he has going on inside his house.

I would be afraid as well. I am thinking rats, which carry all kinds of nasty diseases.

Did I mention that he planted rows and rows of corn in his backyard this year? I am all for gardening... but he has 11 foot high corn rows in his backyard! WTF????

I'm all for growing corn actually and have even considered taking big section of my side yard and trying to grow a row of corn next year. We do have a garden already but stick to the basics like Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Cucumbers. I have a friend in Calgary who converted his entire yard, front and back, into raised vegetable gardens with little pathways. If you are willing to give up ALL of your grass you can really grow a lot of food in a standard suburban lot. Provided you keep things looking organized most folks won't complain. This however would NEVER fly in one of those more upper-class neighbourhoods in the USA with homeowners associations. He lives in an older area of town, mostly working-class, houses built in the 1970's.



Thanks for the letter. Sorry it took so long to post. The day job and endless business travel has kept me away from this blog most of the summer. - Ca1v1n

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


If you are going to attempt to dispose of a cat I would recommend a burlap sack, a large rock, and a body of water.

I would NOT recommend your neighbour's garbage bin.

Definitely would not recommend being caught on camera with either scenario.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Absolutely love this clip. A group of evangelical born-again wackos show up on a quiet street in Toronto and attempt to "protest" against a gay couple that lives there and by all accounts were minding their own business. ALL the neighbours come out of their homes and chase the wackos away.

Neighbourhood Comes Together To Kick Out Religious Haters

Choice quotes:

"We don't go to your house and tell you what to believe"

"You don't know what love means, sir"

And my favorite: "Get the hell out of our neighbourhood!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010


This gives a whole new meaning to the term "Rug Burn"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The key to perfect lawn lies in maintenance. It is completely possible to have a lawn as beautiful as a golf course, provided you have unlimited time and energy to maintain it. For most of us that is impossible, so the important thing is to stick to the basics. My personal regimen is as follows:

1) Spring Aeration/Rolling. Rent one of the machines that leaves the little "plugs" on your lawn. This doesn't need to be a yearly task. I try to alternate between Aeration one year and Rolling the next.

2) Spring Over-seeding
3) Spring Fertilizer

I find it doesn't really matter the order here, but unless you are using a fertilizer specially blended for newly seeded lawns leave at least 4 weeks between step 1 and 2.

4) Don't cut it too short, especially in the spring. Longer grass promotes good root growth.
5) Try to spend at least 15-30 minutes of "manual" maintenance (pulling larger weeds) once per week. Realistically you should spend the majority of your time tending perennial gardens but I find it important to at least do some minor cosmetic work on the lawn each week.

6) Fall Over-seeding. I do this in September, before it gets too cold.
7) Fall Fertilizer

I never water unless I have just over-seeded. I water daily for 1 week after seeding. Other then that I never water my lawn. It doesn't need it. If it is dry a healthy lawn goes into hibernation. Is my lawn always a beautiful dark green? No... but it still looks OK because it is weed free, neatly trimmed, and healthy. This probably wouldn't work if I lived in a warmer & dryer climate but it works fine in South Western Ontario.

Once a year I use a pre & post emergent weed pesticide. I find this is enough to control Dandelions, Crabgrass and Creeping charlie, the "Big-3" in the world of lawn weeds. It won't eliminate them completely but it will keep them minimal.

I don't use anything fancy, usually just Scott's Turf Builder with Weed Control. The Province of Ontario just made lawn pesticides illegal this year so now you are stuck with nothing but Corn Gluten based weed control products. It works to an extent but only on pre-emergent weeds (the corn gluten prevents the seeds from germinating). If the weeds are already established your only choice is getting down on your hands and knees and pulling the bastards out by hand. Or driving across the border into Michigan but I would never do that.

Now one thing you don't do if you want a beautiful lawn... shoot your neighbour.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I've written before how parking issues are one of the top complaints between neighbours (second only to noise). Common parking woes include shared driveways that are always blocked or abandoned cars sitting for months at a time. Another often heard story involves cars left parked in the street when there is space on a private drive or the ignoring (and non-enforcement) of overnight parking bans.

If you have any parking stories to share remember to send them to ca1v1n@hotmail.com.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Sarah from South Africa writes:

I seem to have had the worst neighbours over the past few years. I live in one of those townhouse complexes, you know, one up one down, so a little neighbourly irritation is inevitable. We are all on top of one another and the walls are thin. Trouble is, the flat downstairs is owned by someone who always seems to let it out to the worst people. "I've got a lovely couple moving in!" she says, and they turn out to be neighbours from hell.

I have had all sorts over the past few years, it's like she has some sort of bad energy vibe that attaches itself to her tenants. One lot had to be teargassed by the security guards as they formed a sort of circle around the poor guys. I heard lots of coughing and then they all ran inside. That lot left a trail of mess and filth behind them wherever they went, there were little puddles of nastiness leading into their flat. And the night they moved in they threw a party that involved all their friends and lasted all night. When I went down at 4am they told me "We're not ready to go to sleep yet". The body corporate finally managed to get them out, but two years later they were back, fortunately in Phase 2 of the complex this time so across the river from me.

Another lot held wild parties and had roommates who were wanted by the police. Everyone at work always wants to where I live when I tell them the stories. The area is actually very upmarket with lots of big properties worth millions all around, very mink and manure, only all the manure lives in the complex. The landlady's name is Ingrid and she used to work in at a well known advertising agency in Johannesburg. Her latest tenant, Peter, is a quadriplegic. Now, you are going to say, how could you pick on the poor guy, he's in a wheelchair and can't move. Well, it's not him that is the problem. It's his friends and family who are trailer park trash of the deepest quality.

And the pipes. Pipes? Yes, the water pipes. More of that later. Peter's family are from Alberton or somewhere incredibly rough in the South of Joburg. They look it and they behave it too. The mom wears curlers in her hair and has a cigarette perched on her bottom lip at all times. When she arrives at the flat she shouts and hammers loudly on the front door. "HALLOO! HALLLOO! HALLOOO!!!" It is as though everyone is deaf. The father likes to do DIY home repair, especially early on a Saturday morning. His friend Sean also likes to hammer, shout and do everything at top volume, especially slam doors. Sean can't seem to hold down a job and likes to hang around Peter's place, so he can bum smokes, beers and anything that is going free. Peter has a brother in law who is about as rough as a bear's bum. He arrives hammers on the door, shouts "BRU! MUST I BASH THE DOOR DOWN HEY!!!" in his best Alberton accent. Brother in law's chick is equally as rough. You get the picture.

Peter''s family has now taken to having barbeques outside on their little patio every Sat night. Fair enough but they don't keep it respectful to those around them or stop at a reasonable hour. They just don't know the meaning of self restraint. They hammer away, saying they are chopping wood but it sounds like they are breaking down walls, then they pile it all up, light a huge fire, crack open the beers and sit around yelling at the top of their lungs. Then they invite the lot from #16 over. Now this couple need to be seen to be believed. She looks like a packet of flour which has been dropped, (she looked like she has fallen through her own arse). He is a walking contraceptive because you never would want to have sex again after looking at him. He is bald, slow and a weird dirty colour that I can't describe. She is fat and blowsy with badly dyed blonde hair. Their 11 year old daughter also wanders around painted to the eyeballs like a child prostitute.

When this group starts drinking they don't end it at a reasonable time. They don't know the meaning of the word STOP. They get louder and louder and more and more slurry. And then they start to badmouth me, in their dull and sottish way. They were singing "AI AI AI SENORA" when I called the caretaker,who then called security. They just laughed at the poor security guard as they have no respect for any rules or other people. He wanted to know exactly who had complained (which he had no right to do, by the way), but by now lights were snapping on all over the place. It was a Saturday night but by now it was edging on to 12 and they were only just getting into their stride.

I asked them from the balcony to please take it inside but they shouted at me: "It's just you we are disturbing!" At this point she was surgically attached to her wineglass and made a charming picture, I realized it was pointless trying to reason with them, as they were horribly drunk, vituperative and very stupid. They were finally sent home to their flat across the way from me but carried on the party until after 2am when they saw their guests off with maximum noise and revving of car engines.

It's all very entertaining in the telling but try not sleeping weekend after weekend and see just how you feel. Then there is Jim downstairs on the other side, who commutes between Germany and South Africa. He has a wife in Germany but likes to have girlfriends in South Africa. The girls are prostitutes who bring men back to the flat, usually at around 3am. Again maximum banging of doors, stomping around in their hooker boots, crashing of pots and loud music. Jim is no better, when he is around. He also loves loud parties out in the garden with the smell of nasty burnt chops hovering in the air and he and his friend (one of whom rejoices in the name of Wolfgang and is usually completely motherless drunk) love to whoop it up. He looks like he is dying of AIDS as he is getting thinner and thinner every day.

Now to the pipes. The complex seems to be having a trouble with its water pipes. When the water is run downstairs it creates a terrible heart wrenching DA-DA-DA-DUH which goes straight up to the upstairs units. This sometimes happens at 5am in the morning and I wake up covered in a cold sweat as I think someone is breaking in. Peter and his family have no sympathy with this and after two years of enduring it when I bashed on the walls they just ran the water harder so it was really symphonic. What are the trustees doing about all this you ask? Don't be daft ... that's not their job. All they want are the levies paid on the 1st of every month and as long as Peter and his friends at no 16 pay up the trustees turn a blind eye. They are never on site at weekends and don't want to know about complaints.

I have got to the desperate stage where I want to buy the flat downstairs, which Ingrid (who has a gambling problem) has put on the market and kick them all out.

What is all this doing to the value of my property, I ask with tears in my eyes? The only respite I have is putting it all to paper, or email in this case. Even if nothing ever gets done I feel slightly better now

- Sarah

It sounds like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Complaints about noise or illegal activity are hard enough to get taken seriously or get concrete actions in place when you have a landlord that is engaged and wants to help. If you are stuck with landlords who don't care you are up against two hurdles instead of one.

If you have not done so already I would recommend you get complaints written down. Not the minor stuff, but at least the major concerns. It is one thing to phone a complaint but something else entirely to put pen to paper. Also make sure that you cc the local municipal government not just the landlord. Bylaw (noise) enforcement is their turf and if and when things ever get to an actual court a series of letters (unanswered or unresolved) to the property managers and local government will strengthen your case.

It is a tough call if you should move or not. Nobody likes a complaint with a neighbour to end that way. The sense of defeat will follow you and it will be tough to not end up having bitter memories, especially if your new apartment doesn't measure up. Unless you end up in a nicer place for less money and free parking (you get the idea) there is bound to be resentment.

Good luck, and let us know how it ends up. - Ca1v1n

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I want one of these just so I can put it in my front garden. Just another example of the Nanny State in action. It is not that I want to purposely offend anyone who probably deserves to be offended, I just think it would be cool. The real question is since when do we base our standards of morality on the stupidest members of society? Is this really offensive? I am far more offended that someone would consider it offensive and even more offended that someone in a position of authority would take the complaint seriously.

When I was a student my future wife worked at a little art gallery in Toronto for a time and the owner had a huge painting by the famous Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau in his shop. He kept it behind a wall so you couldn't see it from the street just in case anyone would be offended. If that painting wasn't selling for thousands of dollars I would so have bought it on the spot. I still hope to own it one day if I ever win the lottery. I can't find a digital image of this specific Morrisseau work anywhere so just imagine something in his style except of a giant penis.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Just returned from another trip, this time trying to convince someone to outsource the remainder of a particular piece of work to my team overseas. It would result in a doubling of our headcount on this line of business.

I almost have new favorite 'business travel' hotel after staying at a Hilton Garden Inn. It was very nice but I am not quite ready to give up my current top pick.

Hilton Garden positives included a VERY comfortable bed, free freshly baked cookies and coffee in the lobby 24/7, free made-to-order breakfast and one free bar drink of any kind in the lounge between 6-10pm

Negatives? None. Unless you count free freshly baked cookies in the lobby 24/7 (Goodbye Diet, Hello Gut)

I normally try to stay at a Drury Inn when possible (Southern and South Western USA) but the Hilton Garden may give them a run for the money. Why do I like Drury so much?

Truly amazing staff and customer service. You get this at almost any hotel but something about Drury makes it seem more genuine. I am on a first name basis with the Managers at the locations I stay frequently. Free dinner including 3 free drinks and also the free breakfast.

Now the "free" food is nothing special. Breakfast is a buffet of eggs, sausage, biscuits, french toast and waffles. Plus some healthy stuff like yogurt and fruit that I try to stay away from. Dinner is a combination (depending on the day of week) of chicken wings, spring rolls or meatballs and a variety of sides (potatoes, salad, etc.) Plus three free drinks is ALWAYS a good way to wind down after a long day.

I like the free food at Drury because it means I can pocket my Per Diem ($35/day). If I play my cards right I can not spend a time on food. Every trip I take adds a couple hundred to my wallet that I can spend on souvenirs for the kids or alcohol at the duty-free.

Now the Hilton Garden may not have free dinner and they may only give one free evening beer instead of three but a made to order breakfast counts for something. Freshly made eggs are 10x better then anything that has been sitting on a buffet. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day when it is done right and I always like to have a real breakfast when traveling on business. You never know if you will get a chance to eat again if you are running from meeting to meeting all day long.

Final verdict? I think Drury will still be what I request via my corporate travel team but Hilton Garden was very nice and I would recommend them to anyone.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I've been looking everywhere for any media outlet to cover in detail the Greek debt crisis, the root cause, and what it means for Europe (and the economy of the world at large) and I've been left feeling like a girl who gave a blow-job on the first date and has been left sitting at home waiting for a phone call.

Plenty of sites are talking about the riots, and in general terms about the debt itself, but very few are providing true analysis on the situation. In the end the best analysis I found was Wikipedia and even they are lacking.

European Debt Crisis

In the end the Greeks have no one to blame but themselves. Nobody likes paying taxes, but the Greeks make cheating the tax man a national sport. Yet while they avoid paying their fair share they are quick to demand the benefits those taxes provide.

A Greek citizen who works in a job defined as "dangerous" is allowed to retire and start collecting a government pension at the age of 50. What is defined as "dangerous"? Well, occupations such as: hairdresser, musician, and television reporter. I shit you not.

Years of weak governments and strong unions have literally bankrupted the country. Years of demanding benefits that they are unwilling to pay for.

I believe in the concepts of a mixed economy, I believe in the importance of a social safety net, and especially socialized medicine. I believe in unions that are strong enough to protect the rights of workers against ruthless corporations who only care about the bottom line and care nothing about health and safety.

I also understand that nothing is free, you need to have a strong work ethic and understand that the government being there to give the less fortunate a helping hand does not mean you get a free pass. People need to take responsibility and accountability for their actions and decisions.

Greece needs to stand up to the protesters. Frankly someone needs to turn the entire country over their knee and give them a good smack on the ass. If they are unwilling or unable to get their finances in line or at least create a plan that starts that process...

...then Greece should be expelled from the EU.

I am not suggesting they must become an economic powerhouse like Germany. They will never be that. Countries like Portugal, Italy, or Greece will never replace France and Germany as the true economic leaders of the EU. In the same way that Cape Breton or Manitoba will never replace Ontario or Alberta as the primary economic contributors here in Canada.

There will always be "have" and "have not" provinces in Canada, and there will always be "have" and "have not" states within the EU. The whole concept of this shared responsibility is that we gain more by being together (and helping the less fortunate) then by existing alone. We just need to remember that is not an excuse for a "have not" to be irresponsible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We were treated to another celebrity overdose death today with the passing of former teen heart throb Corey Haim. According to reports from the likes of reputable news sources such as TMZ it is suspected the cause of death is an overdose of prescription medication. I have to ask myself... what the hell is wrong with this country?

There was a time when celebrities overdosed on cool drugs... like heroin. Nowadays they are all dying from taking too many pills they were prescribed by a Doctor. Where is the glory in that? Even the drugs they are dying from suck... antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills mixed with a little Oxycontin? If it is not prescription drugs it is a strange and twisted combination of horse tranquilizers and anesthetics you would find in a Mexican black market plastic surgery clinic.

They say Tiger Woods was addicted to Ambian! That sleeping pill they advertise on bad cable television with a commercial filled with rainbow butterflies? I think that is probably more embarrassing then getting caught sticking yourself inside Jayden James.

Whatever happened to street drugs? Does anybody even use them anymore? Remember the 1970's??? John Belushi and his lethal "speedball" injection of heroin and cocaine. Richard Pryor almost killing himself when he set his beard on fire while freebasing?

The government talks about the "War on Drugs" but it turns out the war is really just on anybody who doesn't have a publicly traded company or wear a white coat and carry a prescription pad. Street drugs can't compete with that.

Monday, March 08, 2010


If the new Gorillaz album is any indication of what we have to look forward to during the Summer of 2010 then I say... BRING IT ON!!!

In other news...

Get this crazy story out of Florida... why is it that pretty much every story out of Florida starts with "crazy"?

Neighbours of long time and semi-famous eccentric Robert Hodges are upset at what he has done to his house in their quiet little suburban oasis. This isn't the first time either... Hodges used to live in Memphis and has a bit of a reputation in that city as well.

Hodges goes by the name "Prince Mongo" and claims to be a 333-year old alien from the Planet Zambodia. His mission is to save the earth from self-destruction, which apparently he can do by painting his house funky colors, covering his lawn with mountains of sand, and decorating the whole thing with woman's underwear.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Just one week ago 29 million Canadians, millions of people world wide, and about 300 Americans watched one of the most exciting hockey games ever played.

Of course I am talking about the Vancouver 2010 Gold Medal final where Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner for Canada.

I am clearly making a joke about the size of the US television audience. By all accounts it was a widely enjoyed game, and a ratings bonanza for NBC. Far more people in the USA watched that game then any NHL game ever played in longer then anyone can remember.

Now, only a week later we have Gary Bettman musing aloud that NHL players may no longer compete in future Olympic games unless the IOC is willing to apparently make some concessions.

Bettman (and the NHL owners) have some valid points, but mostly it just seems like sour grapes. One of the better ones is that they do have millions of dollars in player salaries tied up in this tournament and their insurance policies would not cover injuries sustained by the players. Imagine losing your best player to a freak accident during an Olympic game. There is a very real risk to the team bottom line.

A few folks have tossed around that the IOC made $30 million in ticket sales at the Vancouver Olympics and the NHL wants a cut of that pie. Frankly this is a bogus argument. Sure the Vancouver Olympic Committee made plenty of money selling these tickets, every game was a sell out. Yet you wait until the final bill for this party comes due. I suspect we will be hundreds of millions in the red when all is said and done.

Now it would be nice if the NHL could use some of the positive publicity that the Olympic hockey generated in order to find an audience for their Southern US franchises. The problem is the IOC owns the rights to everything. How many times have you seen Crosby's winning goal replayed since last Sunday? Not many... because the IOC wants a cut every time it gets played. YouTube videos of the goal are taken down as quickly as they come up. It is even getting difficult to find the game online, so unless you feel like shelling out big $$$ for the commemorative boxed set I suggest you grab it now.

Then last night it came to me. Bettman can complain it is about money, or the risk to the players, or the schedule chaos caused by an Olympic tournament. The real reason is the competition. You see last night I was treated to a rather uninteresting (and typical) game on Hockey Night in Canada. It was Toronto vs. Ottawa and it was full of bad plays, missed passes, clumsy offense and dirty hits. It just simply was not a good game, despite Toronto pulling out the win via shootout. The quality of play was simply not there and stood in sharp contrast with those Olympic games fresh in my memory.

That is the real reason why Bettman wants to turn the 2014 Olympics into a glorified World Junior tournament. He knows that when you compare the current state of the NHL against what we saw in Vancouver, the product he puts on the ice comes up short. Which is a shame, because if we could make NHL games as exciting as those Olympic matches then you would see far larger television audiences for the NHL in the USA, which we all know is something Bettman would sell his soul for.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


The month of February passed with no updates thanks to my business travel schedule. The worst part is I am just getting started. I've been back and forth to our offices in the USA a few times over the past 4 weeks and more still to come. I also apparently have been tasked to visit our offshore facility in Manila in order to help with some planned Q3 expansion of my existing campaigns.

I spent last week in Texas, land of Beers, Steers and Queers. I ate plenty of steak and BBQ, enjoyed several local micro brews, my favorite being Shiner Bock. Long gone are the days of American beer being like making love in a canoe. Sure there is still plenty of piss-water varieties available should that be to your liking but every time I visit the USA I stumble across more and more great brews.

Some other favorite Yankee breweries of mine (in no particular order):

The food was great, and I even made it to a big steakhouse that served USDA Prime, and while it was a good steak (18oz Porterhouse Med-Rare) and no offense to Texans, the best steak I have ever had is still the one served at Cabana Las Lilas in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I made the drive from San Antonio (where I was staying) up to Austin, TX to catch some live music and the buzz of 6th Street, which is a hotbed of bars and live music. As cool as I found Austin to be I could not live there. To many @#$%ing Hipsters. If I was 15 years younger I would probably think differently. I did catch several different Rock/Blues and Country bands as I wandered around. Also picked up a Keep Austin Weird t-shirt.

Also while in Austin I visited the Museum of the Weird, which is really just the back half of a store that sells some curious goods, souvenirs, etc. The museum itself is a collection of old-style "freak show" memorabilia like two-headed cows, mermaid skeletons, etc. The kind of stuff that P.T. Barnum would have exhibited at a county fair back in the 1800's. I would recommend you buy a t-shirt here (free admission) otherwise its $4 to get in and the "museum" really only takes about 20 minutes.

And just to tie this post into what my blog theme is supposed to be about:

This guy in California is facing $1,00 fine and 6 months in jail because he replaced his front lawn with wood chips and drought-resistant plants in an attempt to reduce his water bill. You would think that in California that sort of progressive thinking would get you a tax break.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


It has been a rough couple weeks at the office. Apparently my new job description is that of "cleaner", as in the character developed by Luc Besson in La Femme Nikita and further elaborated in Leon (The Professional). I was also asked to take over an account that was being neglected and have managed to turn that into a couple quick and successful launches with the help of my team.

Three weeks of travel in the next 6 will have me feeling a bit like George Clooney's character from Up In The Air. Worst part is that I'll be in Louisiana the week before Mardi Gras and in Texas the week before SXSW. How is that for bad timing?

Just so I can say this post has something to do with Stupid Neighbours, take a look at this recent story from The Toronto Star about a family facing $300 for having a messy back yard.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Not really but here goes. I had my fancy new sofas delivered yesterday. Beautiful rich matching leather sofas. Since today was garbage day I needed to get the old ones to the curb. So I posted a Facebook message letting my neighbours know that if I didn't get help to move them to the curb for pickup they would sit on my porch indefinitely and lower all of our property values.

I got some funny comments, but also got help to drag them to the curb for pickup. Now we have a rule here for garbage collection, you can leave large furniture items but they count towards your 2-bag limit. Since I don't want the two bags of garbage I have sitting all week I actually dropped the sofas off in front of my neighbours house.

He spends the winter in Florida, so obviously has no garbage so his two-bag limit is fair game IMHO. I will send him an email message and picture indicating some jackass had dumped furniture on his front lawn. :-)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


This is weak but it is all I have for today.

Zillow, which is some kind of Real-Estate site, released a survey last week which asked hundreds of Americans who their most and least desirable neighbours would be. Leading the pack was the Obama Family, with Ellen DeGeneres tied for second place next to Sarah Palin. Least favorite was Nadia "Octomom" Suleman followed closely by John & Kate Gosselin and Sarah Palin (who is clearly a polarizing figure) in 3rd place.

From the surface people could think the least favorite choices are showing a bias against large families, but I suspect the real bias is against annoying parents of large families.


Funny thing... we had another outage (same @#$%ing server) on Tuesday and guess what? Everybody was talking. Tickets being opened proactively, IT and Operations and Client Services, and Resource all engaged. Issue resolved in 5 minutes and then about 20 minutes of post-op to determine WTF is going on and to make sure it doesn't happen again today.

Do organizations need to fall on their face on occasion in order to keep on their toes?

Monday, January 04, 2010


There are thousands of Management self-help books out there. I have never been a fan of any of them. The few I have read all are filled with the same kind of Dr. Phil brand of common sense wisdom that makes me think "Seriously... what kind of Manager doesn't know that?" Now I'm not about to go on a rant about what really makes a successful Manager, or a successful company for that matter. What I can rant about is what guarantees failure... poor communication.

As an example it is after 10pm on a weeknight and I am stuck on a conference call trying to figure out why a serious tool outage that impacted hundreds of my employees and my biggest client started at 5pm wasn't reported to anybody who could actually do anything about the issue until 9pm.

Turns out it was some kind of server issue (I'm no IT guy that is just what an IT guy claimed was the root cause just now on my conference call). A quick refresh of something and we were back online, but the fact is that a dozen different "leaders" (and I use that term loosely) sat around assuming that someone was working on the problem already.

Nobody communicated anything, via phone or email. Nobody reached out... nobody asked the questions that needed to be asked. Everybody stuck their heads in the sand and pretended the problem didn't exist and went about their day.

Hell, I didn't leave the office until 6:30... and nobody even knocked on my door to say "Hey I think somethings not right with... yadda yadda"

@#$% me gently with a chainsaw!

Sunday, January 03, 2010


The Christmas Holidays are over and I'm back to the grind tomorrow. It will be a bit strange actually going into the office after spending the last two weeks "working from home". I have to put that in quotes because I found myself very easily distracted these last two weeks. Sure I attended conference calls, worked on reports, spoke with service delivery teams and attended to client needs as they arose... but I also took lots of breaks to watch movies, play video games, and work on some odd projects around the house.

One thing I've learned is that if I am going to be working from home more frequently I need a dedicated office space. I've got the laptop and wireless, so I'm not exactly tethered to the desktop PC that just happens to be in the same room as the TV and the Wii. More then a few times I was sitting on a conference call muted and had to turn around to my two daughters (8 and 3) and ask them to take it down a notch. I'm thinking that we will convert one of the spare bedrooms into a dedicated office space for me. That way I can head upstairs, close the door, and actually get some work done. I can also get a tax deduction on the square footage of the room if it is in fact a dedicated office space.

Space isn't an issue, as technically we have a 5-bedroom house and have two spare bedrooms. One is currently converted into a play-room and homework room for the girls. Its complete with TV, a huge selection of movies, all their toys, shelves of books, and a homework desk. I love having that room because it keeps the rest of the house free of "kid clutter" (mostly). The other spare bedroom is actually functioning as a spare bedroom. I'm thinking a small desk and swapping the double bed for a sofa-bed would be perfect. That way we still have somewhere for company but I get the dedicated office space. The room is on the small side, so adding a desk to the current setup may not be very practical... unless I can find a really cool small desk.

We did some shopping on boxing day, and at some point this week two large, matching, 100% leather sofas will be delivered my living room. The wife and I finally broke down and bought some new furniture. Frankly I should have done it a long time ago. We have two very beat up (as in they wouldn't look out of place in a frat house) old second hand sofas that I got about 5 years ago in the living room. These are the kind of sofas you see on garbage day outside someones house and think "WTF... someone was sitting on that yesterday?"

I make good money in the day job, have zero consumer debt (pay off credit cards every month), own both my vehicles, etc. Really the only debt we have is the mortgage, and I can count myself lucky that unlike many people in the current economy, my house is still worth much more then I owe on it. That all being said, I am still far from where I would consider myself comfortable. I'd rather have more $ set aside for retirement for starters. My "portfolio" is non-existent but one resolution for 2010 is to change that. One thing I was not going to do was buy a couple cheap-ass sofas that will look like crap in a few years. Instead we dropped several thousand on some very nice sofas that will still look great in 20 years.

Pulled down all the decorations outside today and had packed up the interior stuff on Saturday so the house is back to as normal as it gets. Winter has finally arrived with a vengeance and before spring I have a few house projects to work on (finish restoring and painting the banister and baseboards being the largest). I like indoor projects like that to keep me busy until things get nice again outside and I can get back in into gardening, landscaping, and having the nicest lawn on the block.

Not much of a "neighbour themed" post today, I'll do some research for funny stories later this week.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Ten things that I heard enough about in 2009 and hope to avoid hearing about in 2010 (Alternate Title: Good Luck With That)

1. Teabaggers: Morphed from a small group of truly dissatisfied Libertarians to being a corrupted cesspool of sore loser Republicans, racists, and the criminally insane. So stupid that they still don't realize what the @#$% "teabagging" means. Or they are trying to 'take back the word' the way gays did with queer.

2. Sarah Palin: It would be bad enough if she was just another @#$%ing idiot trailer park hick who not only doesn't read but takes pride in being ignorant. What makes it worse is that she is celebrated as some kind of bastion of individualism because of that. Since when did we consider stupidity a strength and not a weakness?

3. The Public Option: The debate over the last 6 months only proves that American health care is @#$%ed beyond belief and can't be fixed. All I can hope for is to protect what we enjoy in Canada and keep that disaster on the other side of the border.

4. Biblical Literalism: @#$% You! Claiming the world was actually created in a week and is only 6000 years old is the equivalent of saying the earth is flat or denying the holocaust. Faith should be the lifeboat you hold on to in the dark times when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life, is elusive. It is not a free pass for stupidity.

5. Glenn Beck: I heard that he raped and murdered a young girl back in 1990. He also won 'Misinformer of the Year 2009' and is a big fan of Vicks VapoRub. His mother must be proud.

6. Tiger Woods Sex Life: I already know more about it then I want to and I really don't care. He wants to be shit on by a German midget while snowballing with that is fine with me. That being said, WTF was he thinking? Some of the girls are quasi-hot, but damn, most of them were second rate cocktail waitresses and then you have that skanky (as in filthy cum-dumpster) porn star Jayden James. Dude you have more $$$ then the Catholic Church. They have high-class call girl rings if you just want to get yourself off while on the road.

7. Michael Jackson: He is dead so hopefully when the vultures stop fighting over his remains we can go back to remembering the amazing songs he gave us in the 70's and early-80's. There was no doubt he was a great entertainer. He was also a child molester, a drug addict, schizophrenic and a poster-boy for what happens when the Hollywood cult of personality chews up a child and spits them out a destroyed man.

8. Minority Governments: Harper please just call an election and Iggy please just keep doing what your doing now (as in failing to properly communicate or connect with voters). Harper can do a fair amount of damage over 4 years that will take some time to be undone but I can live with that. The positive side is that your currently muzzled Evangelical back-benchers will be sticking their feet in their mouth so often Canada will finally see that you are the leader of a bunch of fringe religious nutbars masquerading as a Center-Right party.

9. Climate-Gate Emails: Wouldn't it be great if once, just once, the mainstream media actually engaged in real journalism. No suck luck. Thankfully we have YouTube and the fact that real experts are able to publish true investigative reviews of the controversy. Which is exactly why Net Neutrality is so @#$%ing important.

10. Birthers: They are so stupid I can't even think about a witty sarcastic comment.

Happy 2010 Everybody!